These JAFL lessons have certain advantages for people who plan to study the Japanese language:
Like other courses based on the audio flashcards method, they allow students to use time efficiently by combining Japanese language study with other activities, like exercising and commuting.
- The questions in the lessons are expressed in literal English, in the sense that they closely mirror the grammar used in the Japanese sentences. As a result, grammatically complex Japanese constructions can be readily understood, and students who study Japanese using these lessons are able to formulate answers with relative ease.
- These Japanese language lessons come with a complete transcript, including questions, answers, and extensive grammatical explanations.
- They do not contain much redundant material and therefore are especially suitable for review, since no one wants to spend time listening to unnecessarily repetitive material. As you study Japanese, you will find it valuable to review each lesson a number of times in order to arrive at a deep intuitive understanding of Japanese grammar.
- I have found that this method, which does little more than present a sentence in English and ask me to translate it into Japanese, is a pleasant stimulus to learning. Somehow I don’t feel like walking away from this challenge. I don’t get frustrated. Why? I think it’s because what I’m being asked to do seems pretty easy. I’m thinking in my own language. I can take as much time as I want. I can cheat by looking at the transcript. I don’t have to be perfect, since the lessons immediately correct my errors and make me feel that mistakes are unimportant. Finally, when I start to understand sentences that at first seemed impossibly difficult, the satisfaction that I experience makes me want to keep on learning.
- JAFL lessons feature a more comprehensive and organized approach to Japanese language study than other available audio courses. The first 27 lessons are modeled on an excellent Japanese textbook, Japanese for Everyone, and the lessons also include content based on a number of other Japanese textbooks and reference books,* as well as considerable original material. They contain more than 30 hours of audio instruction, including more than 7,000 questions and answers. A student who learns this material will have acquired a thorough background in basic Japanese grammar and will be able to understand a high percentage of everyday Japanese conversations. In short, the student who has completed these lessons will be poised to achieve true fluency in the language.
- JAFL lessons are free. My wife and I have enjoyed working on these lessons in our spare time. We believe they provide a rare opportunity for students of Japanese to achieve real competence in the language, and we want to make them available to as many people as possible.
Japanese for Everyone, by Professor Susumu Nagara and nine Japanese colleagues, was first published in 1990 and then revised slightly in 2008. I am deeply grateful to the authors of this outstanding resource for the careful work they did in creating it. The audio flashcard lessons that we are offering on this site contain our original translations of many of the Japanese sentences found in this textbook. They also contain hundreds of sentences from other sources, in addition to detailed grammatical explanations designed to answer some of the questions that will come up as you study Japanese.
I also want to thank the authors of a number of other excellent books that have helped me in preparing these lessons: A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar, by Seiichi Makino & Michio Tsutsui; An Introduction to Japanese Grammar and Communication Strategies, by Senko K. Maynard; Effective Japanese Usage Guide, by Masayoshi Hirose & Kakuko Shoji; Making Sense of Japanese, by Jay Rubin; Japanese Verbs at a Glance, by Naoko Chino; Nihongo Gohyakumon, Volumes 1, 2 & 3, by Noriko Matsumoto and Hitoko Sasaki; Japanese Language Proficiency Test N1, by the Intercultural Institute of Japan; and Nihongo Kaiwa Choo Mini Fureesu 200, by Noboku Mizutani, Tomoko Morimoto, Naoko Takahashi and Chie Matsumoto.
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